Good afternoon and thank you for coming.
I am joined this afternoon by Ministry of Public Works officers, Mr. Kirk Outerbridge, Chief Engineer, and Mr. Leyton Rahman, Principal Highways Engineer and Belco representatives Mr. Nadir Wade - Director of Grid Management Services and Mr. Jonathan Pedro, Capital Projects Engineer - to announce the progress made over several months of collaboration between our two organisations.
Let me first state that the President of Belco – Mr. Dennis Pimentel – who has led this effort is unable to be present today but is ably represented by Mr. Wade.
For many years, various service providers at one time or another, have on their own carried out road trenching works to install or repair equipment under the public roads – oftentimes without much regard for the landowner – the Ministry of Public Works or road users.
As we drive on your daily commute, the remnants of this work in the form of uneven road surfaces, recurring potholes, and different surfacing materials is something experienced by every road user.
Just over a year ago -in an effort to address this issue the Ministry implemented a policy of enforcing the issuance of permits and requiring the proper reinstatement of roads. Concurrently, we began discussions with Belco, as the primary utility in this space, to explore ways in which this process could be corrected. Once that was accomplished – other service providers were included in the discussions – that brings us to this announcement today. Effective immediately, a coordinated approach to road trenching going forward is in effect.
It is timely that Belco’s need to conduct major upgrades to its network over the next three years provides the opportunity to coordinate their efforts to carry out island-wide trenching and ensure that all the necessary entities are prepared and ready to lay any and all underground equipment they need to at the same time.
Examples of this is cabling, piping, extra conduits for future use, whatever is necessary to ensure that once the trenching work is complete, the people of Bermuda will have newly paved roads across the country that will be more durable, resilient, long-lasting and not have to be excavated in the foreseeable future.
These works will also have the benefit of further stimulating our economy.
Let me explain.
Due to the size and scope of the Belco project, completing the work will involve private sector contractors being brought on which will in turn create jobs and work for other sectors.
I’m sure all will agree this is good news, however as is the nature of road works, at times there will be traffic disruptions. While traffic delays are always an inconvenience, it is an unavoidable but necessary part of this important work – all efforts will be made to give as much advance notice as possible and keep disruptions to a minimum.
As such, on behalf of the Government of Bermuda, BELCO and all the organizations involved in this effort, I apologize in advance for any inconvenience caused and ask for the public’s patience and full cooperation as we carry out these critical infrastructure upgrades. This short term pain will lead to long term gain.
So when the time comes and you find yourself sitting in traffic, frustrated with the delay, and wishing the traffic would just move along, I ask that you take a moment to consider the immense benefit to all road users.
Following these works, we will have a far more secure, reliable, state of the art infrastructure for all, and probably most importantly - we foresee no need for future road trenching for many years to come.
I believe that this sacrifice is a small price to pay as we work together toward a better Bermuda. Proper planning will afford us the opportunity for all stakeholders to benefit from this collaborative approach. I would like to recognize the efforts of the former Chief Engineer, Mr. Yves Bob Lortie – who started this initiative, his successor Mr. Kirk Outerbridge who has seamlessly picked up that ball and ran with it, Mr. Dennis Pimentel and Mr. Nadir Wade of Belco – all of whom are responsible for getting us to this point. I am convinced that all road users will be pleased with the eventual outcome.
I now ask Mr. Wade from BELCO to provide some specifics on this important project.